The rural unemployment rate is a full percentage point lower this January than in January 2010. The rural unemployed, however, are concentrated in certain regions. The rural rate is highest in California; the highest number of unemployed rural residents is in North Carolina.
Unemployment turned up in January in rural America, just as it does every year after the Christmas season.
The jobless rate topped 10.2% in rural counties in January, according to figures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The unemployment rate in urban and exurban counties rose to 9.7%.
As you can see in the chart on the next page, there is a climb in the unemployment rate in January of every year, after the busy Christmas season ends and the economy loses temporary jobs.
Looked at seasonally, the rural unemployment rate is dropping. The unemployment rate in rural America was a full percentage point lower in January 2011 than in January 2010, when the unemployment rate stood at 11.2%.
Urban and exurban counties also reported much better performance this January. The rate in urban counties last January was 10.4% and in exurban counties the rate in January 2010 was 10.6%. Both had 9.7% rates this year.
The map above traces where the largest groups of unemployed rural workers are living. The bright red counties had between 4,000 and 10,514 unemployed workers in January. Mohave County, a large rural county in Arizona, had the most unemployed rural workers in January. Close behind, however, was Litchfield County, Connecticut, with 10,071 unemployed, according to the Bureau for Labor Statistics.
The dark orange counties had between 2,000 and 4,000 unemployed residents. The counties with large numbers of rural unemployed are clustered in the Southeast, the Midwest, the Northeast and in the large counties in the western states. (Click on the map to see a larger version.)[img:UERJan11.jpg]The Great Plains had few unemployed people — a result of low unemployment rates and small populations.
The rural unemployment rate in the states was highest in California, with a rate of 15% in rural counties. That is almost four times higher than the 4.3% unemployment rate in rural Nebraska, the state with the lowest rural unemployment rate in January.
The highest number of unemployed workers, however, were in North Carolina, where over 148,000 rural residents were out of work in January.
The chart below shows the unemployment rates and the number of unemployed workers in all the states that have rural counties.[img:stateuerjan.gif]